Donna Smith

Obituary of Donna Mary Smith

Donna Mary (Janzen) Smith, passed away quietly at home during the early hours of January 2, 2020. She made a lot of people’s lives a lot better and a lot more interesting during her 85 years and she will be greatly mourned and missed. She is survived by her husband of 62 years, Regent Smith (May 18, 1957); five children, Sandra (Bob McGregor), Ryan (Lesia Edwards), Brad (Alice Smith), Stuart (Allison Smith), and Graeme (Alexsis Smith); eight grandchildren, Dylan Smith, Shane Smith, Candis (Devon) Miller, Amy (Kees) Fralick, Trinity Mahin-Smith, Brooke Mahin, Peyton (Jackson) Rennert, and Tobyn Smith; five great-grandchildren Duncan and Eloise Miller, Autumn and Holden Fralick, and Kaia Mahin-Smith. She is mourned also by her younger sister Joan (Harold) Ralph and her niece and nephews Jo Ann (John) Carlisle, Michael (Carly) Ralph, and Daryl (Jenny) Ralph, and their children. Donna was predeceased by her parents, Jacob and Ina Janzen. Donna was born in Spiritwood, Saskatchewan on June 5, 1934. She completed her school years in Regina, graduating from Grade 12 at Central Collegiate in 1952, from Balfour Collegiate’s Business Diploma course in 1953, and continuing her life-long learning with administrative and computer courses at the University of Regina in 1991-1994. Between 1953 and 1996, she held various office management positions with the Federal Government, John Deere, Imperial Oil, law offices, and, from 1973 until retirement in February 1996, Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration (PFRA). Some Things You Might Not Have Known About Donna: Donna was smart and motivated and inspiring. But you knew that. She read constantly. Her curiosity and intelligence meant she was always looking for things to learn and get involved in. Donna was an avid bridge player, she golfed regularly, she took up running in her 60s and entered a few races. She started AND coached a swim club in Melville, Sask. when the family moved there in the early 1970’s. You might have known that already, but did you know that it wasn’t until a couple of years before in Swift Current that she learned to swim well? Once she started, she pushed herself to achieve as much as she could, so within a few years she had obtained her Red Cross Swimming Instructor certificate, was training other swimming instructors, and honed her own coaching skills with clubs in Regina. The Melville Aquatic Club that Donna envisioned and brought to life in 1972 is still active. You probably knew that Donna had a great sense of humour and always enjoyed plays on words, but did you know that she did stand-up comedy? She occasionally wrote and performed jokes for friends and neighbours, always drawing her material from the personalities and experiences of her audience and highlighting the good things. Similarly, she would alter the words of famous poems or songs to include references to people around her, such as her parody of “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” for a Kinsmen/Kinettes Christmas party in the late 1960’s. You might have known that she liked to keep physically active, but did you know that when she was with PFRA in Regina she always walked to work and back, stopping at the YMCA to swim a mile each weekday morning? She knew all the cats on her route. And every once in a while, when she got to the pool, she would swim in that one “old guy’s lane,” just to irritate him a little bit, because, as you know, she didn’t have much patience for people who took themselves too seriously. Everyone knows she liked to travel, but you probably didn’t know how much. She took her first “big” trip shortly after high school when she was a young working woman (to New York! But her Mom wouldn’t let her go alone—her Aunt had to go too). She and Regent went to the Black Hills, South Dakota for their honeymoon in 1957. Having five kids meant that there wasn’t a lot of spare cash for travel, apart from camping, during the ‘60s and ‘70s, but she really wanted her kids to see Disneyland. She scrimped and saved to make that happen as a special treat ... for her 25th wedding anniversary! She didn’t want a big to-do for that Silver year; she just wanted to be with the people she loved most and to give everyone a wonderful experience together. She and Regent travelled a lot more after that, including Japan in 1985, Alaska in 1999, Panama in 2005, and Hawaii in 2006. Did you know that Donna loved owls? Yes, of course you did. That was fairly common knowledge. But did you know that she was so curious about other birds that she would correspond with people she met when traveling to ask them to help identify new ones she saw? She loved having pets, too, especially cats. She conspired with her daughter to get a kitten as a “surprise” birthday present one year (knowing that Regent would have to agree if it was a gift!). She also was the proud owner of the World’s Oldest Betta Fish (maybe. Five years is a long time for a pet fish.) Had you heard that Donna was a great singer and had a “girl group” The Debonnaires in the 1950s and that they cut an album? With her sister and two best friends Donna and Gloria, she would perform at gigs and events In Regina. She had some funny stories about things that went awry during performances. One time, they decided that having snow fall when they sang “White Christmas” would be a good idea. It might have been lovely, but the mechanics of the rope pulled off stage and the box of soap flakes in the rigging above their heads resulted in one massive and conclusive dump rather than the romantic wafting they envisioned. They finished the song with soap in eyes, nose, and mouth. (Probably cleavage too but Donna never provided that detail.) Did you know Donna was the Orchid Whisperer? She could bring orchids back from the brink and keep them blooming longer and more abundantly than anyone else could. And do you know how she obtained most of those gorgeous (expensive!) plants? She would spot near-death plants at the grocery store and offer the manager a dollar for them. “Oh no. We can’t do that.” “ Why not? You’re just going to throw them out. Why not get some money for them?” “Well it’s not store policy.” Et cetera. She would get her weak, frail orchids for a dollar, bring them home, and watch them thrive. Donna loved to see the people around her thrive, too. You might not have known that she was bragging about you, but she was. She took enormous pride in the accomplishments of the people in her life and she empathized deeply when things were not going so well for them. She was the irreplaceable spark, light, and magic in our lives and all of us who knew her will now carry that energy with us as we move through the dark place her absence has made. Memorial Service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 2170 Albert Street, Regina, SK on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. Mom loved purple, so we’re encouraging everyone who attends the service to wear or carry something purple—-perhaps a scarf, tie, flower.

Memorial Service

10:00 am
Monday, January 13, 2020
First Presbyterian Church
2170 Albert Street
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada